Spicer at Harvard: Off-the-Record Speeches, Unchallenged Lies

Inside 'the secret Harvard fellowship' of Sean Spicer
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2017 1:34 PM CDT
Spicer at Harvard: Off-the-Record Speeches, Unchallenged Lies
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks to attendees at Shale Insight 2017, at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.   (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Sean Spicer's "secret Harvard fellowship" consisted of off-the-record speeches, repeated anecdotes, and unchallenged lies, Daniel Drabik writes for the Harvard Crimson. As part of his Visiting Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, the former press secretary held 11 events, including forums and meals, over three days. But: "Not a single word Sean Spicer spoke during his Visiting Fellowship at Harvard was on the record, nor could a single word could be heard without an explicit invite." Harvard Kennedy School dean Douglas Elmendorf has said the school does "not shy away from ... controversy, we insist that all speakers take questions." Except when it comes to Spicer, apparently. "When given the opportunity to have an open dialogue with a controversial figure, the school chose to secretly shuttle Sean Spicer from restricted event to restricted event," Drabik writes.

It's unclear what was gained by granting Spicer that level of secrecy. It created a low-risk environment for the school (no concerns about protesters or the need to be truthful) but also a low-reward situation for students. "Harvard valued the comfort of itself and its guest more than it valued providing a learning opportunity for its students," Drabik writes. And being off the record apparently didn't allow Spicer to be any more candid than usual. A Spicer classroom speech attended by Drabik "followed the same playbook as his press secretary tenure: Dodge hard questions, make a few false statements, attack the media, claim that Trump is treated unfairly, etc." Drabik wants less secrecy in the future, but things appear unlikely to change for the Harvard Kennedy School's next Visiting Fellowship: former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Read the full piece here. (More Sean Spicer stories.)

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